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Employee Training Evaluations: Benefits, Methods & Tools

What is a Learning Management System

Improper training can cost your business millions of dollars per year per 1,000 employees!
Let that sink in to understand why training evaluations are necessary.

Evaluations act as a checkpoint to measure and analyze whether employee training programs achieve the intended objectives. In other words, they assess what’s working and what’s not so that you can fix it on time. Without a solid evaluation system, you won’t be able to measure training effectiveness.

Since you invest a great deal of time, human labor, and other resources to deliver training, you would certainly want to know the training ROI

It’s about meeting your training expectations.

Luckily, there are several training evaluation methods and tools that you’ll discover in this post. Along with this, you’ll learn the benefits of assessing training effectiveness.

Make the most of this essential aspect in every training session by understanding all the techniques and metrics.

If you’re wondering how to evaluate training programs, continue reading to find out more on the topic.

Watch: How to Analyze Training Course Results

What Is Training Evaluation?

Training evaluation is a systematic approach that instructors and training departments take to measure the effectiveness of an employee training program. Through evaluations, you can easily measure

  • the engagement level
  • the efficacy of modules and the delivery method
  • whether the training achieved its objectives

If necessary, you can improve your training programs based on the information gathered through such evaluations. The outcome of a training evaluation should show you whether the time, money, and effort you’ve spent on it gives you the expected return on investment.

To help you understand the concept better, here’s a real-life example of an international company banking on a learning management system (LMS) to identify problems faced by its learners and improve the exam system.

Case Study: How Thermo Fisher Scientific Improved Their Training With Evaluation

Thermo Fisher Scientific is a world leader in supplying scientific instrumentation, reagents, consumables, and software and services. It employs around 37,000 employees and serves pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinical diagnostic labs, universities, and research institutions.

The company needed to provide training to its global employees and using an LMS they were able to automatically grade nearly 600 exams. Auto generated statistics helped the company see the questions that people had trouble with, which allowed finer gradation of training.

To understand the different ways such evaluation can help you improve your training programs, hop to the next section.

Why Evaluate Training Programs?

Before you get to learn how to evaluate training effectiveness, let’s understand the why of it. 

There are scores of reasons to run training evaluations. They bring significant benefits to organizations, including insights into training effectiveness. Some of the top ones are:

  • Understanding Course Quality

Post-training feedback from participants, which forms an integral part of training evaluations, can give you an idea of how they find your training courses. If learners don’t score on certain topics or the dropout rate is high, it may be because the course is difficult. You can consider revising those sections to improve scoring and completion rates.

  • Ensuring Cost-Efficiency

An in-depth analysis of training performance shows you whether you achieve cost-efficiency. Ideally, the outcomes of a training program should be worth all the resources allocated to planning and executing it.

  • Ensuring Accountability

By evaluating corporate training program effectiveness, you’re ensuring that participants undergo needs-based learning to address all the gaps in their competency. Based on a training result analysis, you can deliver the right training so that learners can learn in the best way.

  • Boosting Business Performance

Since an evaluation of training programs basically measures their effectiveness, it can give you a clue about future employee performance and productivity. Employee performance, in turn, has a direct effect on business performance. So, the more effective a training program, the better it is for your business.
High Performance Habits Training-compressed

    

What’s the Best Time to Evaluate Training?

Timing in life is everything.

There are two occasions during which you can conduct online training evaluations. They are before you finally roll out a program and another right after it. Let’s look at them in detail.

  • Pre-Training or Formative Evaluation

This evaluation serves as a discovery phase of any potential issues with your training so that you can fix them on time. For this, you can run a pilot test of your courses and assessments with a sample audience before you share them with the rest of the learners.

This will tell you whether the training creates the intended impact on participants. You can also let subject-matter experts review your training program to catch loopholes.

  • Post-Training or Summative Evaluation

You can conduct this evaluation after learners have completed the training. It can be in the form of quizzes, surveys, and other insightful tests.

The idea is to get the necessary feedback from course participants on how they find the training, which module they find challenging/difficult, which areas of a course they are abandoning most or scoring poorly in, what’s their opinion on the instructors, and what suggestions they would like to share for a better experience.

This evaluation can help you make improvements in your programs.

As you can see, both these forms of evaluation can help you at different points in time. So, it makes sense to leverage both of them.

Top 4 Corporate Training Evaluation Methods

There are many methods to evaluate training effectiveness. Each of them has its own formula developed by training and education experts. Which one you use depends on your preference and what you think works best for you and your teams.

  • The Kirkpatrick Taxonomy

It is the most widely used training evaluation model developed by Donald Kirkpatrick. It follows four levels to determine the effectiveness of a training program. They are:

  • Reaction

It evaluates how learners react to the training. The evaluation is generally done after training to find out their satisfaction with the learning experience and how they rate an overall program.

  • Learning

At this level, learners are evaluated on how much they’ve learned during the training. To arrive at a conclusion, training managers compare the participants’ knowledge and skills before and after training.

  • Behavior

Similar to the second level, this level checks whether there is any noticeable change in learners’ behaviors following the training. It observes whether they implement what they learned during the training in their job roles.

  • Results

The last level evaluates the measurable results of a training program or the business impact it creates. It measures efficiency, performance, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Krikpatrick Model

(Source)

  • Kaufman’s Five Levels of Evaluation

Kaufman’s model of evaluation can be another helpful evaluation method in your quest for how to evaluate training programs effectively. It is more or less similar to the Kirkpatrick model but comes with some extra steps.

Step 1a: It measures the resources invested into a training program to support and sustain it.

Step 1b: It assesses learners’ response to or the acceptance level of training. The Kirkpatrick model calls it learners’ reaction.

Step 2: This step evaluates whether you’ve met your learning objectives to ensure learners acquire the necessary knowledge and skills.

Step 3: Similar to Kirkpatrick’s third level, it measures whether employees apply their new knowledge and skills to their job.

Step 4: It measures the impact of learning at the macro level or on business as a whole, such as cost reduction and increased profitability.

Step 5: The last step assesses the effect of a training program on society or its benefits to clients.

Kaufman's Five Levels of Evaluation

    (Source)

  • Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation

Anderson’s Value of Learning Model entirely focuses on a company’s learning strategy rather than a particular training program. It consists of three stages for determining the best learning strategy based on an organization’s needs.

Stage 1: Evaluation of current training programs against a business’ strategic priorities. For example, if your goal is to achieve more sales, does the training closely align with that target?

Stage 2: This stage measures the contribution of training to strategic business results

For example, a workplace safety training program intended to reduce unwanted injuries and fatalities can be measured by the actual decrease in the number of these incidents over a period of time.

Stage 3: At this stage, you decide whether the return on investment is worthwhile. If it is not, then you find the most relevant learning approach for your organization.

The model measures the following categories:
Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation

(Source)

  • The Phillips ROI Model

This model is also similar to the Kirkpatrick model but like Kaufman’s, it comes with an extra step. That final step evaluates a training program’s ROI by measuring the difference between training cost and training results.

Step 1: At this stage, you collect pre-training data to compare it against metrics from the post-training phase.

Step 2: Here, you collect post-training data from various sources, including training participants and training managers.

Step 3: This stage measures the impact of training on key performance areas (KPAs), such as customer satisfaction, profitability, and revenue generation.

Step 4: This compares the value a training program provides with the cost incurred. If the value exceeds the cost, the program is a success. If not, you should identify what didn’t work and improve your training.

Step 5: The final step calculates the return on investment by using the formula:

ROI% = Net program benefits x100
Program cost

Phillips ROI Model(Source)

What to Measure When Evaluating Your Employee Training Program

Before you decide to conduct training evaluations, it is important to know what precisely you should measure. The more areas you measure, the more information you will gather to form a fair idea of training effectiveness.

Here are a few metrics you can use to measure your employee training programs:

  • Learning Experience

Learning experience measurement is a must during any learning program. If your learners don’t get a positive experience while interacting with your course content, they will fare poorly in terms of engagement and retention. This means they will not gain the required knowledge and skills.
So, it is important to measure their experience from start to finish to gauge the overall training effectiveness.

  • New Knowledge & Skills

This is a priority area in any workplace learning program. At the end of any session, it is natural to expect some improvement in your learners’ practical knowledge and skills compared to the pre-training phase. Make sure you measure any change in their industry knowledge and skills following the training as that would impact their future performance.

  • Employee Satisfaction

Employee empowerment is among the top contributing factors that lead to employee satisfaction. Providing ample opportunities to learn and grow is one of the ways to keep them happy at work. So, you need to measure the satisfaction level of your employees vis-a-vis your training programs.
The greater the satisfaction level, the greater the chances of them staying longer and committed to your company.

Employee Satisfaction

  • Efficiency & Productivity

The best way to measure the real benefits of employee training is to measure the improved efficiency and productivity of employees after the training.

For example, you can measure how many tickets your customer support team is able to close before and after undergoing a training program. If the training is impactful, it should reflect positively on the speed, efficiency, and accuracy with which they perform their duties.
efficiency and productivity of employees  

  • Financial Impact

Measuring the financial impact of your learning & development initiatives is another crucial step for any business. Your training should be cost-effective and lead to increased sales and revenue. Ideally, it should create a positive economic impact in the form of a rise in business profits and a reduction in costs over time.

  • Cultural Impact

The impact of training on a company’s culture is something organizations seldom measure. Through professional training, you can strengthen your culture with the people you hire, serving as a solid  foundation.

For example, workplace diversity & sensitivity training is one of the compliance programs that can positively impact a company’s culture. You can deliver the training and measure its outcomes in changed behaviors among employees.

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About the author

Michael has more than 10 years of experience in the enterprise software and eLearning industry. He is passionate about online training and exhibits a deep understanding of how organizations can leverage it for success. In his free time, he enjoys power walking, zumba, and reading.